Raptor Rescue

Devon Birds Plymouth Branch – Indoor Meeting of Monday, 13th February 2017

A talk by Steve Hopper, South Hams Hawks & Owls

Steve has dedicated much of his life to birds of prey and his extensive knowledge and his great passion for these birds was deftly communicated to an enthralled audience. He illustrated his presentation with many outstanding photographs that showed another great talent that this engaging birder possesses. Many of us will have met Steve on his ‘peregrinations’ and he is always a helpful and informative guide willing to impart his bird ID tips to enrich our birding experience.

His presentation clearly showed us the complex and involved care that is needed to rescue the birds that come his way. His rapport with many local vets and land owners has meant that his reputation has spread far across our county and beyond. Many occasions have seen Steve venturing out late at night (sometimes in his pyjamas!) to attend to a raptor in trouble. The success rate of recovery is impressive too and Steve is always saddened when a bird is beyond his and the vet’s skills.

In the second half of Steve’s presentation we were introduced to three of Steve’s charges. The audience were thrilled to meet Scamp the Barn Owl, Marley the Kestrel and the impressive and imperious Hazzard Hawk (Harris x Buzzard hybrid that Steve had bred).   From his skills in falconry we learnt about the importance of weight and condition when flying birds of prey and how birds hunt both from the falconer’s arm and in the wild.

We all came away from the evening with much admiration for the sterling work that Steve does, a great deal more knowledge and a desire to get out birding and see more raptors!

John Lloyd